NEW YORK - Even as COVID cases rise, preparations continue in Times Square for the most famous New Year’s Eve celebration in the world. In a Thursday morning TV interview, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the event will go on as planned.
On Thursday, organizers tested the bedazzled ball. A day earlier, they checked on the airworthiness of the confetti.
The modified celebration is moving ahead despite a call from City Councilman Mark Levine, who chairs the health committee, to cancel it as other cities like Rome, Paris, and Tokyo have done. Levine and others fear that it could become a superspreader event.
COVID already forced LL Cool J to cancel his performance. Chloe also canceled, although she hasn't commented on why.
Thanks to the highly contagious omicron variant that was first identified as a variant of concern last month, new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have soared to their highest levels on record at over 265,000 per day on average. New York City reported a record number of new, confirmed cases — more than 39,590 — on Tuesday, according to New York state figures.
De Blasio said the answer is to "double down on vaccinations" and noted that 91% of New York City adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said that the NYPD is ready for the celebration. He said there were no credible specific threats against the city.
Shortly after the ball drops, Eric Adams will be sworn in as the city’s 110th mayor in Times Square. Adams had planned to have an inauguration ceremony at the Kings Theater in Brooklyn Saturday night but canceled it because of rising COVID cases. Adams says he will hold it at a later date.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.